In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?| Evaluation Task I

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Audience Theory | 05.02.2018

“Apply the concept of Audience to one of your coursework productions”

Level 4 (21-25 marks)
Candidates demonstrate a clear understanding of audience and relevant media theory and can relate concepts articulately to the production outcome, describing specific elements in relation to theoretical ideas about how media texts are produced for and received by audiences in various ways. Candidates offer a broad range of specific, relevant, interesting and clear examples of how their product can be understood in relation to relevant theories of audience and reception.

The use of conceptual language is excellent. Complex issues have been expressed clearly and fluently using a style of writing appropriate to the complex subject matter. Sentences and paragraphs, consistently relevant, have been well structured, using appropriate technical terminology. There may be few, if any, errors of spelling,
punctuation and grammar.

There are three main modules of Audience Behaviour surrounding Audience theory; there is the Hypodermic needle, the Gratifications module and Reception. Im this essay, I am going to attempt to apply the concept of Genre to my A2 5 minute Short Film, Disturbed Mind. My film follows a young male adult whom lives with Schizophrenia and is confiding in a counsellor, however his mind deceives, and there is not actually a counsellor there at all.

The Hypodermic Needle, also known as the effects model sees the audience as weak and passive and the media as strong. This enables the media to say something, and essentially inject information, and the audience accepts it automatically. In 1961, Albert Bandura started the Bobo Doll experiment in order to prove that human behaviour is learnt more by social imitation and copying rather than generic, genetic factors. Bandura created a big blow-up clown-looking doll and let the children watch as adult either played or showed aggression and love to this doll. And when the children went to the doll, Bandura found that the children imitated what the adults did tho the doll. Bandura created the concluding point that media texts are injected and the audience is powerless. This idea of injecting aggression and general behaviors  into audiences caused moral panics and the creation of ‘couch-potatoes’ with copy-cat behavior. This meant that in some cases laws were changed and films became banned.

It is important to remember that Bandura’s experiment took place in 1961, and that this was 60 years ago, and since then, the audience has evolved and become less likely to blindly accept obvious propaganda. Therefore applying this concept to modern society and audiences of today is difficult, as the audience has more of an awareness on recognising propaganda media texts. In Disturbed Mind there are slight copy-cat themes in the beginning of alcohol consumption, however this is to portray the ‘normal’ male young adult life. As the short film progresses, there is the story of the paranoid schizophrenic male. It could be noted that this portrayal of schizophrenia is injected into an audience, and despite our evolving society, labels to illnesses are still given, therefore this narrative could arise the idea of self-diagnosis or seeing only one portrayal of schizophrenia and believing that is it, with an ‘I saw this in a film one time’ approach.

The next model is the gratification and uses model, which a has a different concept to the effects model. The affects model is essentially given (or injected) into an audience, and the gratifications model is looked for by an audience, weather that is for releasing anger or sexual simulation. Disturbed Mind could be watched and used by an audience for a sense of understanding or even something to relate to in order to help with their  issues.

Lastly is the reception theory, which is the media technique that Stuart Hall recognised in the 1970’s, whereby media texts are encoded with a hidden message which is then to be decoded by the audience. This leads to lots of perceptions of a text, which can however cause confusion. In Disturbed Mind, there are hidden messages implanted in order to foreshadow the confusion with in the main actors mind. Also there is variations in representation which create certain semantics, i.e. warm and cold colour palettes to convey moods. This is a convention of audience theory that Disturbed Mind follows.

Genre theory | 29.01.2018

“Apply the concept of Genre to one of your coursework productions.”

Level 4 (21-25 marks).

Candidates demonstrate a clear understanding of genre and relevant media theory and can relate concepts articulately to the production outcome, describing specific elements in relation to theoretical ideas about genre. Candidates offer a range of specific, relevant, interesting and clear examples of how their product can be understood in relation to relevant theories of genre. The use of conceptual language is excellent.

Complex issues have been expressed clearly and fluently using a style of writing appropriate to the complex subject matter. Sentences and paragraphs, consistently relevant, have been well structured, using appropriate technical terminology. There may be few, if any, errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar

The word genre means style and type and categorises large numbers of content and texts into smaller groups which creates a better understanding of the content with in a text. David  Buckingham (1993) said that genre is “not simply ‘given’ by the culture, but is in a constant process of negotiation and change”, genre classification is not systematically distinct, therefore arose the concept and application of Sub-Genres. Multi-genre texts have become popular as Hollywood Global Conglomerates try to incorporate a romance plot in every film, which can be seen in Action-Adventures like Batman and Spider Man. I am going to apply genre theory to my A2 Short film, Disturbed Mind, a short film that follows a young adult opening up to a counsellor about his schizophrenia, however it is found that his mind is deceiving him, and there is no counsellor there. This film could be categorised under the drama genre and psychological genre, as it also takes the viewer on a journey

Narrative Theory | 19.01.2018

 


“Apply the concept of Narrative to one of your coursework productions.”

Level 4 (21-25 marks).

Candidates demonstrate a clear understanding of narrative and relevant media theory and can relate concepts articulately to the production outcome, describing specific elements in relation to theoretical ideas about how media texts are constructed as narratives. Candidates offer a range of specific, relevant, interesting and clear examples of how their product can be understood in relation to relevant theories of narrative. The use of conceptual language is excellent.

Complex issues have been expressed clearly and fluently using a style of writing appropriate to the complex subject matter. Sentences and paragraphs, consistently relevant, have been well structured, using appropriate technical terminology. There may be few, if any, errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar

All media texts tell a story and narrative theory is concerned with how that story is constructed which leads to audience appeal which keeps them interested . By narrative theory, I mean the plot, locations, language, structure and character traits. There are five main theorists that I have explored, they are: Propp, Todorov, Strauss, Barthe and Cameron. In this essay, I am going to apply the concept of narrative and the five theories above to Disturbed MindDisturbed Mind is my A2 short film about a paranoid schizophrenic young adult whom describes their emotions and experiences in the form of a counselling session.

Vladimir Propp stated that all stories have the same general structure, he created eight defined character types and thirty-one narrative functions. However, Propp wrote his narrative structure theories in the 1900’s and based on his readings of Russian folk stories; Which means that some of these characters and functions can be seen in Disturbed Mind, but only very vaguely. Propp’s eight character types particularly apply to fairy tales, for example Sleeping beauty is a damsel in distress, Prince charming is the hero and Maleficent is the villain. This is an example whereby Propp’s character types fully apply. However, Disturbed Mind does not directly conform to Propp’s Character types, as there is no explicit hero/protagonist nor villain/antagonist- however it could be inferred that the patient is the hero, the counsellor is the helper and the schizophrenia itself is the villian. However, I feel that Propp’s eight character types are vastly out-dated compared to modern media texts as the theory is based on Russian Folk Stories of a fairytale theme. However, Propp suggests that the protagonist/hero seeks something or at least there is a lack of something. In Disturbed Mind, the narrative is driven by the protagonist looking for answers and aid to battle his Schizophrenia- which acts as the agonist in the plot, as the illness prevents the young adult from living a ‘normal’ and free life. This could be interpreted as a modern take on Propp’s character types. However Propp also created thirty-one narrative functions, once again based from his analysis of Russian Folk Stories. From these narrative functions, three can be chronologically applied to Disturbed Mind. Firstly, I could apply an interdiction to the narrative as the protagonist feels as though they cannot talk to anyone. Then there is the violation, whereby it is seen that the counsellor is not real nor present which was lead by the narrative function of trickery which was served by the mind, which as already established, is the mind and antagonist.

An alternate narrative theorist and device is the Bulgarian Tzvetan Todorov’s state of Equilibrium. He states that the narrative is sorted in a state of equilibrium, or normality. This normality is the ruptured by an external force, which he refers to as the disruption. This disruption is then recognised and repaired. Which then concludes with the reinstatement of the initial equilibrium. Once again Todorov’ narrative theory could be applied to Disturbed Mind, however the narrative structure is anachronic, and there is a state of equilibrium where the main antagonist is not featured. This includes the settings of a pub and playing outside, which establishes what everyday life for a ‘normal’ person is, and happiness. This then turns into a a constant state of disruption once the main protagonist is introduced, there are flashes between this disruption to his own equilibrium. However, there is never a resolution to this disruption, just further added disruption. Disturbed Mind‘s climax is the recognition of this disruption by the protagonist, as he realises that he is essentially trapped by his villainous illness. There is common similarity that both Propp and Todorov’s theories share, which is that their narrative structures are in fact predictable, particularly Todorov’s. However, as Disturbed Mind is a film on mental health thats intention is to enable the audience to engage with the patient’s mind, it could explain why it does not fit Todorov’s equilibrium structure, as Schizophrenia is an unpredictable illness.

A third stance on narrative structure is Levi-Strauss’ Binary Opposition. Strauss recognises that there is a constant creation of conflict and the narrative can only end with a resolution of this conflict, this is particularly applicable to horror films. For example in James Wan’s 2013 The Conjuring, there is conflict between the demonic Annabelle doll and the Perrson’s family whom where being haunted. The conflict, or binary opposition, in this narrative is confidence and rationality juxtaposing fear and the irrational. Strauss’ theory is the best applicable theory to the narrative of Disturbed Mind as the narrative is formed and displayed through juxtapositions of good and bad, company and isolation, sane and insane. Not only the narrative, but between the characters, there is an opposition of authority and a lack of control.

The next narrative theory that I am going to apply to Disturbed Mind, is Roland Barthe’s audience codes. The main codes that Barthe expressed were the proairetic and hermeneutic codes. The Proairetic code is also known as the action code as it builds tension and makes the audience guess and question what will happen next. With in Disturbed Mind there is no direct use of what Barthe would consider as proairetic, as there is little action; by action i mean race against time, or things that bring on a sense of urgency with in the audience. Instead, Disturbed Mind offers a more hermeneutic approach whereby a field of enigma is formed, as elements of the story are not fully explained, leading to the audience to create questions. At the ending of Disturbed Mind, it can be seen that the counselor set-up was an illusion, and this is a prime example of Barthe’s Hermeneutic narrative code/

Lastly, Allan Cameron stated that “Popular cinema has displayed a turn towards narrative complexity”, which caused him to create the Modular narrarives. This is a narrative theory concept that applies the best to my film because it is modern and up-to-date, unlike Propp’s 1900’s Russian Folk stories. Cameron talks about four key modular narratives. Firstly a forking path, where by the audience is shown different versions of the same event. Secondly, visually splitting the screen, this could be to show the audience a race against time between say James Bond and a ticking bomb. Episodic, which is not commonly used, but is a collection of short stories and lastly Anachronic. Anachronic narratives are flashbacks, juxtapositions and having an unclear rolling order to a film, for example Tarantino’s Pulp FictionDisturbed Mind can apply the concept of anachronic flashbacks and juxtaposition. In the ending sequence, there is a visual blurred flashback montage to show the suffering with in the patients mind, which is an example of this “Narrative Complexity” that Barthe speaks of.  And following onto Strauss’ binary oppositions, there is also juxtapositions between the narrative.